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  • The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA), Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) and Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), have strengthened their cooperation for the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), under the Logistics Hub Initiative.
  • Dr. Deans said the centre will be central in transforming the SEZ application process from manual to electronic, thereby facilitating connectivity among these and other agencies involved, while allowing applicants to interface with them through one portal. 
  • “It also fits into our strategic direction at TAJ to have established relationships and well-documented methods by which we will operate with all our stakeholders. We see the Customs Department and the JSEZA as two key stakeholders… so, this (MOU) will be a step forward for us in ensuring that we will be able to deliver the level of service that is expected from the Authority,” he added.

The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA), Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) and Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ), have strengthened their cooperation for the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), under the Logistics Hub Initiative.

This  will be carried out through a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU),  which was signed by JSEZA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Eric Deans; JCA Chief Executive Officer and Commissioner, Velma Ricketts Walker; and TAJ Director General, Ainsley Powell, at the Authority’s office in Kingston, on Friday (May 11).

Dr. Deans explained that the document will establish the agencies’ standard operating procedures and protocols for information sharing, and will be pivotal in how they develop linkages into the rest of the economy, deemed necessary for the SEZs’ success.

Importantly, he said the MOU will enable the establishment of a Business Acceleration Centre, a requirement under the SEZ framework, which will aid in facilitating businesses within the Zones, an engagement in which the three agencies play critical roles.

Dr. Deans said the centre will be central in transforming the SEZ application process from manual to electronic, thereby facilitating connectivity among these and other agencies involved, while allowing applicants to interface with them through one portal.

He pointed out that the overall aim of this undertaking is to reduce the application approval process from 120 to 30 days.

“So, an applicant can go online, anywhere in the world, make his/her application, upload his/her documents, and that information is passed on to the respective agencies. When the approval is given by the respective agencies, it (will happen) immediately, and all our documentation is updated simultaneously,” Dr. Deans outlined.

He further indicated that the MOU sets out the administrative structure on how the document’s provisions will be executed.

This entails the establishment of a Steering Committee, comprising the three agency heads, who are required to meet regularly to set the guidance framework for the working groups that will actually execute the document’s provisions, which Dr. Deans said, “will require detailed work among our respective teams”.

For her part, Mrs. Ricketts Walker said having recognised that the SEZ is a special customs area, and that the JCA plays a critical role in the overall process, “we are here to ensure that we continue to support the development and buildout of the initiative… and that this tripartite arrangement is one that is supported by the agency and its staff members”.

“We (also) want to ensure that the underlying rules and regulations are seamless… and so streamlined to facilitate an enabling SEZ activity, so that we can have the linkages necessary to have the growth that we are looking for within this type of activity,” she added.

Mr. Powell, who noted that the TAJ is required to “play its role” by the legislation that governs the SEZs, said “we feel that the MOU will be a big part of how we cement that process on the administrative side”.

“It also fits into our strategic direction at TAJ to have established relationships and well-documented methods by which we will operate with all our stakeholders. We see the Customs Department and the JSEZA as two key stakeholders… so, this (MOU) will be a step forward for us in ensuring that we will be able to deliver the level of service that is expected from the Authority,” he added.